Enjoying the Garden in Spring
Although it is officially spring, you still need to be cautious as late frosts can occur right up until the end of October. But in general, temperatures will be increasing as spring takes hold.
We talk about garden preparation a lot and that is because it really is the most important part of successful gardening. If you haven’t got the basics right e.g. soil, site etc then you may experience problems later on in the season and not get the results you desire. To prepare your soil for future planting or to refresh existing soil, dig in plenty of organic matter such as Daltons Enriched Compost with Extend Complete or Daltons Big Value Blood and Bone. This is an essential step and improves the structure of the soil, helps plants develop strong healthy root systems and promotes naturally occurring soil organisms like earthworms and other beneficial fungi which are good for your garden.
If you have issues such as water logged (heavy/clay) or overly wet soils, add extra amounts of Daltons Organic Clay Breaker or Compost to help with drainage. This opens up the clay soils and binds together the sandy soils to enhance water holding capabilities.
Take time to plan your summer veggie or flower garden and what will go where. Allow enough room between plants to promote good air flow and for general gardening maintenance tasks such as watering, weeding, dead heading flowers, staking plants and harvesting.
If you haven’t prepared your veggie garden yet, or are planning to put one in, get it underway so you are ready as the temperatures increase. Choose a site that is north facing and not too windy or exposed. Ideally soil should be deep, loose, crumbly, nutrient rich and free draining.
You can start planting the hardier vegetables for summer harvesting now. These include; asparagus, beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, onion, radish, silverbeet and spinach. Remember, more traditional summer vegetables are planted in October/November.
Flowers and bulbs
While September is still a little early for planting traditional summer annuals, there are some that ‘transcend’ the typical growing seasons and are very useful at this time of year. These include; alyssum, calendulas, cornflower, lobelia, pansies and violas. If you wish to grow your own summer flowering annuals, seed should be sown now either in a glasshouse or in a warm, north facing enclosed patio. Sow the seed in Daltons Premium Seed Mix and water regularly to ensure even germination. Seedlings should be ready for transplanting into the garden six to eight weeks after sowing.
Mark the position of your winter and spring flowering bulbs as you may wish to grow other plants in the same area over summer months. Where the bulbs have performed well, allow them to naturalise where they are growing. This applies especially to crocus, freesias, hyacinths, iris, lachenalias, muscari, narcissus, and watsonias.
Spring/early summer is the best time for roses, with masses of blooms and plants usually disease free. The addition of compost around the base of existing plants is beneficial for plant health. Start feeding roses from October onwards with Daltons Premium Rose and Flower Fertiliser.
Stone fruit such as apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums are all in bloom now, as are pip fruit such as apples and pears. Hopefully weather conditions allow for pollination by bees, as last year’s heavy rainfall had a major effect.
Apply pea straw or mulch around strawberry plants to help keep the berries clean and healthy as they develop. With other berry plants; blackcurrants, boysenberries, gooseberries and raspberries, apply a cooper oxychloride spray to help prevent summer diseases.
Grass growth is just beginning so you will start to see lush green lawns again soon. Cut them regularly in early spring, avoiding close mowing initially. First applications of a lawn fertiliser such as Daltons Premium Lawn Fertiliser can be applied in late September/early October. A little early for over sowing in bare parts of the lawn, these areas can be prepared now for October seed sowing.